Planning enforcement

Planning enforcement is a procedure undertaken by Local Authorities where development has occurred without the correct planning permission.

Once a notice of planning enforcement is served by the Local Authority the land owner has a limited amount of time to comply. Compliance can involve removing the structure or ceasing a use. Failure to comply with an enforcement notice can result in an unlimited fine.

Can enforcement action be taken out against me?

Any development which has taken place without consent is open to enforcement action. Examples of this can include:

  • changing the use of a building or land
  • letting out a building or part of a building where it involves a change of use
  • building a new house or other structure eg: a barn or stable block

If a certain number of years have passed then some unlawful developments can become immune from enforcement action. In order to ensure this immunity a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) should be sought. This will confirm that the required time has passed and will prevent enforcement action being taken. It should be noted that in some cases enforcement action can still be taken despite the required time having elapsed, for example where a development has been deliberately concealed.  

How can I avoid planning enforcement?

There are three main routes to avoid enforcement action. These are to appeal, seek retrospective planning consent or apply for a CLEUD.

It is possible to appeal on a number of grounds, such as planning permission should be granted for the development or the matters complained of do not constitute a breach of planning control. This depends entirely on the facts of the case.

Retrospective planning permission can be sought after a development has been begun or been completed. All developments will require a full planning application if being sought retrospectively, regardless of whether it could have originally been Permitted Development.

If the requisite timeframes have passed then a CLEUD could be sought. This will safeguard this existing use or development and prevent enforcement action being taken. To submit a CLEUD evidence of the development will need to be provided for the whole 4-10 year period. This evidence can include utility bills, council tax, dated photographs and statutory declarations. The success of the CLEUD application is reliant on the evidence proving the history of the development.

Carver Knowles have experience dealing with a wide variety of planning enforcement issues across Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. If you have concerns that your development may be unlawful or if you are facing enforcement action then call us on 01684 853400 or email